Cannes Lions

If Iggy Pop Ruled the Ad World

Rocker Has Some Hardcore Advice for BMW, AB-InBev and Volkswagen

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Iggy Pop speaks during Grey's seminar at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
Iggy Pop speaks during Grey's seminar at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Credit: Richard Bord/Courtesy of Cannes Lions.
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Iggy Pop, creative director.

The grizzled rocker turned up at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity on the main stage courtesy of Grey Advertising, which resulted in entertaining if predictably outrageous discussion of what the entertainer likes and dislikes in advertising, even though he was the first to admit he did not know a whole lot about its creation. Below are some of his observations on AB-InBev, Volkswagen and BMW. Proceed at your own risk.

Volkwagen: Mr. Pop said it's clear the automaker has a problem with the emissions scandal and his suggestion would be to admit they have been "naughty." Recalling the days of his youth when people used to try and stuff as many people as they could into a VW, he said the company should revive that trend and pretty much everyone would forgive them. He also favors putting a sign saying "Naughty" on a VW and traveling around with women in bondage inside. (Apparently he did not know Ford Figo did that already with disastrous consequences.)

BMW: He has a ready tagline for the luxury carmaker, which goes something like "Fucking buy a fucking BMW." Or something like that, there were a few more f-bombs in the tagline, but we couldn't take them down fast enough. (Actually, he might have been talking about VW, but we suspect the tagline might be the same.)

AB-InBev: Bring back the Clydesale and the Americana. Mr. Pop misses that iconic imagery and said the new ads are all about "sleaze bars." He said: "they have ads with all these good-looking people sidling up to one another and guzzling the product in the dark. It doesn't do anything for me."

What does do something for him? The Carl's Jr.'s spot with Paris Hilton in a bikini. He didn't explain, but perhaps he didn't have to. (See Volkswagen above.)

About the ad creators: Agency execs are like "voodoo priests," he said, and marketing people at record companies "have three faces, two mouths and 10 sets of ethics."

Mr. Pop's last piece of advice for the audience was to make better ads. "As long as people keep sticking out their fingers and pressing 'skip ad,' nothing is going to change," he said. "Skipping ads is a negative vote." On that at least, the audience would agree with him.